We have been settled in St. Petersburg, Florida for about a month now. I am still behind on posting, but wanted to take some time to catch you up on our travels. In the past month we have visited our favorite place, Tybee Island, GA, attended my daughter’s wedding in Atlanta, and even endured some RV problems.
I have to tell you that I miss the snow. As pretty as Florida is, I would prefer to be trekking through several feet of pure white snow. But the RV and Dave both would like to have a warmer winter.
We arrived to 95 degree weather with nearly 100% humidity. Looks like the RV and Dave both got their wish.
Our new spot is quite beautiful and the campground is like a little resort, so I really do not have a lot to complain about. They tucked us in with the snowbirds who all seem very nice. And we even have grass!
Ralph and Faith like it too. They both have lots of things to keep their interest. In fact, there are so many lizards running around here that it is hard to get Ralph to take a poop without getting distracted.
And Faith has an issue with herons (those tall legged white birds with the long necks), so there is always plenty of excitement when I take them outside.
We are working at the campground here. I am in the office and Dave is working on the grounds. And…we are getting the place spiffied up for Christmas!
Dave put up all the blow up decorations this week, and then spent quite a bit of time freaking Ralph out over this outhouse Santa.
Ralph is not a fan of Santas exiting an outhouse. Just saying.
The streets are decorated too! What do you do when there are no fir trees around?
We felt the need to decorate the coach too. Since we had no nearby fir trees to decorate, Dave and I picked out a tiny tree at a local Christmas tree stand.
Charlie Brown would be proud.
Our tree turned out great! We ended up with just enough room in the living room for it. The little table is actually my printer box covered in blankets. (I’m the master of multi- purpose!)
Oh. Did I mention there is a beach nearby? It is 2.5 miles from the campground to Madeira Beach. There will be plenty of beach photos in the next few months.
We have yet to located any great eating places to share with you, but I’m sure we will have a top 10 list before we leave the area.
Since ice cream is my second hobby, I do feel the need to mention this fun soft serve stand, Twistee Treat. There are actually a few of them in the area, all shaped like giant ice cream cones.
And apparently, I have my new challenge for this leg of the trip. Trying each and everyone of those awesome flavors!
Oh, and by the way. That is a medium size cone there. Can’t even imagine what the large one might look like. I think I’m going to like Florida.
On the beach there are snowmen. This will probably be as close as I get to snow this winter. I’ll take what I can get.
And the sunsets here are beautiful too. Christmas in Florida can be quite beautiful!
If you squint a bit, that white sand could be snow. Right?
It is so hard to accurately describe how beautiful it is here in Bar Harbor, Maine. Over the past five and a half months, I’ve done my best to document some of the sights and sounds of the area. We have made so many wonderful friends here at the Bar Harbor KOA and will miss every one of them.
Here is a compilation of some of the highlights of our time here along with my friends and coworkers who made the time that much more enjoyable.
We have been in Bar Harbor for two months now, working on the campgrounds. The weather has been very different from what we are used to, with many blustery, windy days. At one point, I wondered when it would actually green up!
And then suddenly the trees grew leaves and summer happened. Well, at least Maine’s version of summer. It is still chilly at night, but we now are having beautiful days in the 70’s . Apparently the trees need to work fast because they only have a few months to be green!
With a few nice days of warm sun, we emerged from our work schedule and RV to create a nice front yard to enjoy. It is truly beautiful here and we wanted a nice place to sit and enjoy it!
This is work camper row. We all have designated spots behind the cabins. They aren’t as green and scenic as the rest of the park, but we made do with what we had to work with and really do like our neighbors.
The work camping thing? Well, it has definitely gotten more intense. We are now working close to 40 hours a week and have gotten to the point where we definitely look forward to our days off.
We’ve had a few coworkers quit and move on already. Seems that work camping is not for everyone. Dealing with customer service and often physical labor can be difficult at times. We have our bad days too, but fortunately for us, the good days outweigh the bad. We have met lots of fun campers in the past few weeks- many from Georgia!
And now that the weather seems to be cooperating, we are spending more time outside in the evening, enjoying our newly decorated front yard and the beautiful park.
I put together a fun project last week. This one involves a wooden plaque, sharpie pens and chalkboard paint! Inspired by the area, I drew up of the local sea life and created a fun chalkboard. You can find the free pattern here!
On the tourist level, we’ve been to Cadillac Mountain several times now. Cadillac Mountain is located in the nearby Acadia National Park and at 1,530 feet, it is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard.
You can travel to the top of Cadillac Mountain several different ways. You can drive to the top in your vehicle, take several different hiking trails, or enjoy a trolley tour of the mountain.
We checked out Oli’s Trolley simply because they not only take you around the area, but offer a fully narrated tour about the area’s history, historic sites, mansions, and the summit of Cadillac Mountain.
This area has an interesting history behind it, and we definitely recommend a ride on the trolley to learn more about it. Amongst many other things, we learned about the great fire of 1947 that nearly destroyed all of Bar Harbor. You can still see stone foundations of mansions that used to be amongst the trees on the hillsides of the town.
The area is also the home of the Rockefellers and Martha Stewart! We are told that you can take boat tours into the harbor where you can see their homes.
As for Cadillac Mountain, there are various hiking trails to the summit, some more challenging than others. There is also a paved road to the top.
From the summit, you can see most of Mount Desert Island. On a clear day, it is a beautiful site to see! The photo above shows the town of Bar Harbor in the distance below.
In this photo you can see Bar Island. When this photo was taken, the tide was out and you can see a sand bar that goes from the island to the town of Bar Harbor. Folks like to hike or even drive their cars across that bar of sand during low tide to explore the island.
Timing is crucial as it is not unusual for folks to find themselves stranded on the island during high tide. For a tidy sum, boaters will rescue those that do not want to wait another 8 hours for low tide.
Oh, and the little guy in the photo? That is a very ingenious seagull. He figured out that if he stands there looking all sweet, folks will feed him snack food. He waited patiently for us to find something in the car for him, and then went to the car behind us to see what they had.
An interesting fact about Cadillac Mountain is that it is the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from October 7 through March 6.
Want to view a sunrise from Cadillac Mountain?
You have to get up mighty early. The sun is up by 4:00 AM right now! Check the time for sunrise and give yourself plenty of time to get up the mountain. It takes about 20 minutes from the village of Bar Harbor or 30 minutes from the KOA campground.
Dress warm! It is always windy on top of Cadillac and particularly chilly even in the middle of summer.
For more comfort, consider bringing blankets and chairs.
Bring some coffee or tea in a thermos to keep warm. Or plan for a nice breakfast in downtown Bar Harbor afterwards.
Us? Well we do not do mornings well. We may decide before the summer is out to check out a sunrise. I mean, we need to try everything, right? But in the meantime, we did drive up to the top last week to see a sunset. The sun sets about 8:00 PM right now and that worked out well for us.
My camera doesn’t do it justice, but here is a brief look at that beautiful sunset.
Sunsets are beautiful here both on Cadillac Mountain and at the campgrounds. I think that they will be one of the many things I will look back on fondly when we do eventually move on.
Spring has finally come to our part of Maine! The grass suddenly greened up, the weather has warmed up a bit, and the dandelions are in full bloom!
Back in Georgia, the schools have let out for summer and I’m sure it is very hot and humid there. While we are totally not missing that, it is a bit strange to be celebrating spring weather when it is nearly June.
The park is starting to fill up. We had a big crowd over the Memorial Day weekend and our first taste of how busy it will get as the weather warms up here.
When Dave and I lived and worked in Atlanta, we carpooled every day- an hour and a half each way in heavy traffic.
We still carpool, but this is our new ride! Cute, right? Takes us about 5 whole minutes to get to work and the traffic? Other than an occasional seagull or goose, it is nonexistent!
We get two days off a week and plan to use them to explore the area. The Bar Harbor Oceanside KOA is located on Mount Desert Island. It is a huge island with lots of areas to explore including a Acadia National Park, tons of hiking trails, lots of coastal towns, lobster fishing, beautiful mountains, and even a lighthouse or two!
This past weekend, we took a trip down to Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor, and the Bass Harbor Lighthouse. Southwest Harbor is the largest town on the southwestern quiet side of the island. The town has some great shops, galleries and restaurants worth checking out more thoroughly in the near future.
As we entered Southwest Harbor, we stopped to admire the amazing views. You can see the open ocean here, dotted with various small islands. And just check out the rocks! I had immediate plans of gathering a bunch and creating a whole new batch of Painted Paisley Stones!
…and apparently they knew I was coming. It appears that I may not be the only one who loves a pretty rock.
Our next stop was the lighthouse. My ultimate goal on this trip is to visit every lighthouse in the area, and with nearly 60 lighthouses on the Maine coast, I have my work cut out for me!
Built in 1858, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse is the only lighthouse located on Mount Desert Island. There are not currently tours available for this lighthouse as it is maintained by a private family, but you can take the walkway right up next to the tower and lighthouse viewing area where you can see a panoramic view of the harbor and the islands in the distance.
To the left side of the lighthouse is a path that leads to the rocks below where you can capture some amazing photos of the cliff and lighthouse. Here I am in my KOA yellow parka checking out the view before I carefully picked my way down.
We sat here for quite some time enjoying the view and keeping an eye out for seals along the shore. I hope to come back here soon around sunset and get some more beautiful photos.
The little town of Bass Harbor is not only picturesque, but is known as one of the most lucrative lobster-producing ports in the state. The town also has terminals for two different ferries which can take you to more of the surrounding islands.
We plan on taking some of the ferries in the near future and will let you know more about them then.
But for now, we have work to do back at the Oceanside KOA. And a few beautiful sunsets to enjoy there!
We arrived in Bar Harbor, Maine, about two weeks ago. I’ve been asked by several people why we chose Bar Harbor as our first ultimate destination. Well, the truth is, Bar Harbor chose us.
Last August, I put our resumes on the KOA website. Shortly afterwards, we had five different offers for work camping jobs in the United States! Maine, Colorado, New Mexico, Montana and California. After speaking with the manager at the Bar Harbor Oceanside KOA, we decided to take the leap and head north.
Neither of us had ever been to Maine, and what a great way to start a new life in a beautiful part of the world!
We arrived on April 18. This particular park does not open until May 7 due to the extreme weather in this part of the country. For the first few weeks of our new jobs, we were to help the other work campers on site to clean up the park and make it ready for the grand opening.
I have to admit that the work was tough. This park shuts down in mid October. There was heavy snow this year resulting in many fallen trees. Reopening it involves thoroughly cleaning all cabins, cleaning up leaves and debris from campsites, learning the computer systems and how to take reservations, scrubbing bathrooms, picking up trash, and much, much more.
This is the land of no “R”s! There is lobstah, beyah (beer), and but-tah popcorn!
And the weather? Well, it is has been cold, windy and rainy, punctuated by moments of brilliant warm sunshine. We were told that if you didn’t like the weather, all you needed to do is wait an hour and it would change.
Heavy winds and rain brought down even more trees after we arrived including this one in front of our RV! Dave had noticed a split in the tree and when he went out to warn our coworkers, the tree fell. That was definitely our excitement for that day!
But it hasn’t been all work…
We had a fun gathering with our boss and the rest of our co-workers. We ate burgers on the grill, lots of great homemade food and even met Big Foot! Looks like it is going to be a fun summer!
In the evening when it is nice, we gather up a bunch of wood and make a nice campfire. We have met a whole lot of people here with so many things in common with us. They are also full time RVers and most of them have been doing it a whole lot longer than us.
We are excited to share the sights and adventures of the Bar Harbor area with you over the next few months.
I have to admit that occasionally I get a little homesick. I can’t shake the idea that I’m on vacation and any time now, I need to return home to Georgia. We have been gone a month now. I miss my family, my house and some of the routine that I had over the past 20 years.
But I do love getting up in the early morning and walking the dogs and enjoying the fresh crisp air that this beautiful part of the country has to offer.
And when I get back to the RV, Dave has a fresh cup of hot coffee waiting for me.
Part of our plan when we became full timers in our RV was to spend at least the first couple seasons working at campgrounds. We felt that this would give us a better transition from full time jobs to full retirement. And at the same time give us a little security money-wise until we feel that we can do it on our own. KOA was our first choice. We put our resumes out last August on the KOA site and were hired within just a few days. We will be working in Bar Harbor, Maine this summer. I will be working front desk, and Dave will be working in maintenance.
KOA offered a Work Kamper “Boot Camp” in Branson, MO that would give us a taste of what to expect when we arrive in Maine in just a few weeks.
The Work Kamper program is simple enough. You work for the campground as a couple, putting in between 25 and 40 hours a week depending on the season. In exchange, you could be offered a campsite free of charge, utilities and other perks, along with an hourly salary. (The benefits vary from campground to campground as most are individually owned).
We were excited to meet KOA’s Chairman and CEO, Jim Rogers. The show, Undercover Boss featured him a few years ago.
Boot camp was a lot of fun. We met nearly 100 other couples who are doing the same thing we are. Most did not have jobs lined up yet, and took advantage of the virtual job interviews offered at the end of the class.
The folks at the Branson KOA were wonderful and made us feel like part of the team.
And while we were in Missouri, we got a good taste of midwest weather. We ate dinner the first night looking out the window as hail the size of marbles came down on our VW bug and motorhome. (No damage- unless you want to count the indigestion…) The second night, we had major thunderstorms all night.
All night. The dogs literally had their legs crossed by morning.
Really. We made the decision pretty quickly that we didn’t want to spend too much time in tornado alley during spring and summer.
The third day was beautiful, sunny and cold. Since classes were over, we decided to check out Branson.
Stay tuned for part two where I don’t get to meet Barry Williams (AKA Greg from the Brady Bunch), but I do end up seeing some pretty famous folks that nearly made up for it!
RV Camping and Travel